Old is the New New

(Editor’s Note: We also just went to see Power Rangers and my wife went to see Beauty and the Beast with her father. So, none of us is immune to the siren song of our childhood.)

A few months ago, I saw an advertisement for an official Nintendo authorized mini NES. It comes with 30 classic Nintendo games like Super Mario Brothers 1-3, Metroid, and The Legend of Zelda. Regular readers of the page (welcome back, both of you!) will know why I specifically mention those 3 games. They will also be shocked to hear that I have no intention of buying the console. I know! Believe me, I’m just as shocked as you! This goes against everything that I hold dear about Nintendo! I am a traitor and a fraud!

Why am I yelling?!

For those of you who are new to the page, welcome! As always, we hope you enjoy your stay and come back for more. Please don’t take that first paragraph as an indication of our temperament. I promise that we are more reasonable than it might indicate. Perhaps I should explain myself a bit better. I have often said that all Nintendo has to do is release a Mario, Zelda, and Metroid game on a system and I will buy it. But, I’m not doing it this time. My reasons are numerous enough that I won’t go into them, but the main reason is that I already own those games and can play them through questionably legal emulators.

The reason that I bring it up is that I did my version of research for this article and discovered a similar retro style Genesis system. Now, I’m probably not going to buy that one either–because, emulators–but it got me thinking. I know, I know. What doesn’t get me thinking, right? What can I say? I have an active mind and I tend to follow it down every dark path it takes me. Sometimes it pays off. Other times, I get eaten by a Grue. The best part is that we get to find out what happens together this time.

Now, now, it does say that I am “likely” to be eaten by a grue, not that it is inevitable.

None of this should come as a surprise. I’ve always know that nostalgia is big business. Well, perhaps “always” is stretching it. Ever since I watched MTV (was it even MTV or am I remembering it incorrectly?) try to force nostalgia on our generation by using the nostalgia of the previous generation to attempt to revive Woodstock in the 90s and early 2000s, I knew that companies were in the business of exploiting memories for monetary gain.

It is weird that I’m experiencing it first hand. When faced with the prospect of a strictly financially motivated Woodstock, even as a rebellious teen, I was insulted. You’d think that I’d be even more insulted that it is my own memories that are for sale. But, I’m not.

I’m mostly ambivalent about the phenomenon, as my attitude about the retro systems clearly shows. In other cases, I’m actually excited about, enjoying, and contributing to the commercialization. New Star Wars and Rocky movies that are little more than retelling the original story? Sign me up! An endless stream of Marvel entertainment in the form of movies and TV shows? Please, Sir, can I have some more? 2D Mario games? Pokemon on my phone? A new version of Blood Bowl? Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!

This all begs the question, “Why was I more offended by the appropriation of a music festival that happened before I was even born than by exploitation of my own childhood? I think that I already have an answer, but I will give each theory the proper diligent analysis. It’s the least that i can do as a man of logic and reason. Plus, I have a reputation to uphold as far as word counts are concerned. Truthfully, and with some shame, I have to admit that I’m more worried about maintaining the second reputation under the guise of the first.

Wait, what?

Nothing. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

So, allow me to present my logical and well reasoned arguments. Maybe I was too overcome with emotion to even notice. Taken back to a simpler time when I didn’t have to worry about anything other than cereal and Saturday morning cartoons, I worried only about those things. That theory loses steam rather quickly. While it is true that I was initially overcome with a deep sense of nostalgia as soon as the opening scrawl rolled on Star Wars, Creed took a little longer to trigger. Eventually I came around and analyzed Creed’s fighting style, noting his weak side and how the fighting scenes exposes that consistently through the movie.

However, in spite of it all, I still recognized that they were feeding us the same story line in both movies. At least Star Trek had the decency to admit that the characters were the same and made no pretense of originality. It felt that much fresher when the storyline took a bit of a different turn and incorporated Leonard Nimoy in the movie. Maybe the Star Trek experience jaded me to the others because I already knew the trick going into them. In any event, I knew they were manipulating me and I didn’t care.

Dance for us, Puppets, and give us all your money! MUAHAHAHAHA!

Another possibility that exists is that I noticed the manipulation, but that I overlooked it because I am a proud father who wants to share these things with my children. This theory already holds more water than the first because I just spend a paragraph explaining that I noticed the manipulation. Now, I just have to spend another paragraph explaining why my love for my children did not overshadow that knowledge and set up the big reveal of the actual reason that I have concluded to explain this seeming contradiction.

First, and this shouldn’t need to be said, but I will because this is the internet and everyone misinterprets on the internet. I do love my children. I know that it’s a controversial stance to take, but dammit, I’m not backing down. I also can’t wait to share these things from my own childhood with them. So, I suppose that is just another point in favor of this theory. However, that love and desire to share did not obscure my ability (as seen in previous paragraphs) nor recognize, nor care about the corruption of my youth by the darker forces of capitalism.

I typed “dark forces of capitalism” into Google to find a joke and this came up as one of the images. I have to admit. I’m a bit shook right now.

And, finally, we come to a conclusion. I leave it to you to judge if it is a satisfying one or not. Even as a child, I knew that my childhood was for sale. George Lucas supposedly signed a deal for Star Wars that didn’t care about proceeds from the movie–or they weren’t a priority–as long as he received nearly every cent from merchandising. Hell, Mel Brooks did a whole joke about it in Space Balls. Therefore, it came as no surprise when that attitude persisted for the life of the franchise.

By comparison, it was always my impression that the original Woodstock represented a true spontaneous celebration of peace, love, and music. Obviously, I have no hard evidence for this case. this is solely based on what my parents said, a biased and possibly erroneous admiration for hippie ideals, and repeated viewings/listens to the movie and soundtrack. As a result, I might be completely off base.

Even if I am, that’s my rationale. You may argue all you want, but you can’t prove me wrong. We live in a post truth world. The earth is flat, punching Nazis is politcal correctness run amok, and Woodstock had no capitalist intentions. If I say it, in my reality, it is true! Man, I love post truth! No, that’s a lie. Also, the earth is a sphere.

And, if punching Nazis is wrong, I don’t ever want to be right. Give ’em hell, Cap.

A Battle A Day Keeps the Vader Away

(Editor’s Note: Not that long ago, in my newly minted and cleaned play room.)

Like most males my age that identify strongly as geeks, I am a fan of Star Wars. relax, Trekkers, I have gained an appreciation for that series as well. It’s just that I grew up while the movies were being released, then re-released, then remastered, then “ruined”, and finally saved. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, the last step is occurring as my own children are of age to accompany me. Hmm, it’s almost as if it was planned that way.

Last article, I confessed one of my nerd crimes of not having seen Inception. In spite of my claim to make that right, I have still not yet watched it. Well, I come before you to lay bare my soul again and confess perhaps my greatest sin against nerddom. I don’t remember the first time I saw Star Wars.

I know! Shocking! Everyone always talks about their first time viewing the movie as a historical event that they remember and will for all time. Well, I don’t. I remember seeing it with my wife when it was re-released. I remember Empire vaguely. I obviously remember Return and the Rancor pit scene.

Okay, there are probably other reasons that I remember Jedi.

But, there is a gap in my childhood memories where “first time seeing Star Wars” should be. Maybe I was too young. Like, I would have been 4 or 5 when it came out. I wonder if Quinn will remember seeing Episode 7 when they inevitably re-release it for his generation. Still, this is supposed to be a childhood defining event, right? People continually talk about their experiences with the movie and how it propelled them to a lifetime of love for science fiction, etc. Clearly, it had a similar effect on me, but still I’m bothered by missing memory.

Okay, sin purged and soul cleansed, let’s talk some Battlefront. Now, in spite of being such a huge fan, I never got much into Star Wars games. Sure, I played Kotor and that led to a beta test of The Old Repubilc MMORPG that lasted longer than most people because I had friends in the game. Other than those, and Lego games, I pretty much avoided Star Wars games. That included Battlefront. That changed last Christmas. The boys got some Sims games, so I had to reinstall the Origin client on the computer. On of the sales–and I’m a sucker for sales–included Battlefront, so I bought it because the deal was so good.

So far, I have made it through the tutorial mode and two of the training missions. I have not played any of the coop stuff yet as I don’t have any friends on Origin and I don’t want to noob it up with strangers. I think that Kevin might have Origin, but he forgot his password or something. Who knows? Maybe this will inspire us to bring back our long planned but often delayed or cancelled game night. Stranger things have happened.

I don’t have an attempted funny caption for this one. It speaks for itself.

Until that happens, I’m stuck in single player purgatory unless I get brave enough to expose strangers to my own particular brand of noobery. As I don’t anticpate that happening any time soon, I will be saving and/or ruling the galaxy alone for the foreseeable future. Only 2 Sith are there ever, but apparently Noobs are doomed to a life of solitude. That’s actually not so bad, except I do miss having a regular gaming buddy.

So, what can I say about what I’ve played in the game? Well, being a Star Wars fan, I was hyped. That hype only increased when the Lucasfilm logo appeared on the screen followed by the iconic theme song. I clicked through, though, so I don’t know f there’s a scroll or not. However, once the menu loaded, it started the Imperial march. And, so, I ended up humming the march on my way to dinner because that’s when my wife announced that it was done. And I spent all of dinner with the song running through my head and making me more excited to play the game.

After dinner, I rushed back upstairs to finally get my journey started. I figured I’d start with the tutorial because I’m not called Noob of All Trades for nothing. And this is…an FPS? Really? That’s not at all what I expected and more than a little disappointing. Well, the sooner I can get this done, the sooner I can play other and better games.

Oh, wait, what’s this? Princess Leia is going to talk me through the mission? Well, that’s…wait, I don’t think that’s Princess Leia. Is it? No, I’m pretty sure it’s not her voice. Oh well, I will still see it through to the end. If the rest of the missions are FPS, I’ve wasted my money. Damn you, sales! Wait, what was that? “Good job!” Fake Leia encourages me after jumping up a snow bank. Maybe this game will be worth it after all. The only thing that would make it better was if it was an achievement, too. Heck, I need that kind of support in real life.

“Way to go! You got out of bed this morning!”

“Super job on those groceries!”

But, I digress. The tutorial progresses as you’d expect. You walk to a place, shoot a droid, walk to the next place, shoot another droid, find a weapon upgrade, walk to the final place and obliterate a droid. Okay, that was damn cool, too. I’m still not sure about this whole FPS thing, but it ended up being a relatively fun tutorial level.

I also played through a training level where you dog fight tie fighters as an X-wing. That was so much fun and much more what I was expecting from the game. Quinn got a kick out of me crashing my X-wing into the mountain the first time I played the level and he kept saying to me, “Don’t crash, Daddy!” He was like my fake Leia voice of encouragement through this level. I only had one complaint about the level. It was too repetitive and about one wave too long in my opinion. By the end, I was done flying and wanted to try something else.

The something else was also a first person level, but it was the level where Darth Vader and the Emperor are attempting to take over the rebel Hoth base. This level was entirely too much fun. You could force choke, throw your lightsaber at the rebels and it gave you the feeling of being Darth Vader. I say that the Arkham games are the closest thing to being Batman. Well, this level was very similar as far as Darth Vader goes.

Feel the power of the dark side, rebel scum!

Overall, I recommend the game if you’ve somehow avoided playing it until now. The graphics are very good. The voices are not the actual voices, but they are close enough from what I could hear. The levels are actually varied. However, some of them are a bit too long, or maybe it was just my feeling about that X-wing level. I would have to play more to see if that thought persisted. Other than that, this is a great game and worth your time and money. Go, get it, now!

Dr. Strange Love

(Editor’s Note: This was supposed to be a review of Logan. However, as is becoming an all too familiar theme in my life, being an adult stinks. So, instead of using my break to do things I wanted to do, I spent it doing things I have to do.)

All things considered, I suppose that I should consider myself lucky that I had 99% of this vacation to do with as I please. I used it to rearrange my new Magic cards. I applied my time and energy to make 2 Generations gaming into a functioning entity again. My wife and I even got to have a date night.

Still, I’m a bit bummed to realize that today is already Sunday and I was not able to see Logan or join a Modern Masters draft. Truth be told (and why would I lie?), I’m actually more upset about the draft. I mean, I’ve had a week or so to hype myself about Logan. However, talking to Chris, taking out my cards, and remembering the fun times I had with previous drafts on xMage have me wanting to try the real thing. Then again, and this might just be me out of practice, I tried a draft on xMage for this set and it did not feel like a good draft set to me. Maybe it is better as sealed. Maybe it is just a “draft a bomb and profit” set. Who knows? All I know is that I was having a difficult time finding the synergies in the cards. Perhaps more testing is needed.

I felt like I was being pushed into 3 colors. Maybe, from the above card, that’s intended. Maybe it’s a trap!

But, this article isn’t about Magic. I know that it won’t be the latest and greatest, but perhaps I can revisit this in May when we do our show on Magic. Now, I want to talk about Dr. Strange. Naturally, this may lead to side conversations about other movies this year. However, as this seems to be the year of DC with regards to movies, I will most likely be able to stay on target. Also, I really liked this movie.

I get the feeling that was not a common assessment. I have not heard overwhelming hate against it like I did Batman vs. Superman, but it was a quirky movie. As a kid, I always liked the lesser celebrated heroes. Sure, I collected Spidey and Hulk, but I also had Guardians, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Dr. Strange in my collection. This has followed me into adulthood in two ways. First, I’m infinitely more excited about those franchises coming out this year than Spidey. Some of that might be Spidey fatigue. The second aspect of my legacy of obscure super heroes lives on in Aiden. He loves Iron Fish and Flash is his absolute favorite book. But, there will be time to talk about that in November.

Now is the time for Dr. Strange and one of my main man crushes.

The movie hooked me with the casting of Sherlock heartthrob Benedict Cumberbatch. One of my favorite actors playing one of my favorite characters? Sign me up! I never got to see it in the theater for the same reason that I wasn’t able to see Logan. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I could have taken the boys to see this one. Maybe it was just a lack of time and money that kept me from this one.

Whatever the case, I wish that I had seen this one on the big screen. It’s rare that I say that about a movie these days. With HD wide screen TVs and surround sound, the theater experience is relicated quite easily with only 1.50 from RedBox. But, the special effects are the best that I’ve seen from a Marvel movie. I never saw inception. I know. accuse me of yet another geek crime and bring me before the tribunal already. However, from what I’ve seen of the Inception trailer, the visual style of Dr. Strange is very similar. Maybe I will finally see the movie and strike one of my crimes from the record.

There was only one part where the effects took me out of the fantasy of the movie. When the ancient one takes Strange on his tour of the multiverse, some of the efffects looked wonky. But, it was brief and the rest of the movie was so entertaining that I put the minor glitch behind me.

This is the part that looked most fake to me. Right after this when he went flying off into the distance. It wasn’t terrible, but it definitely looked like it was at the end of the production schedule and they rushed it.

That was the other thing that stood out to me about Dr. Strange. It was funny. I mentioned Batman vs. Superman earlier and the hate that it received. I didn’t agree with much of it, but DC is definitely missing the point by making their movies so dark. They got too much into the *Batman voice* “dark and gritty realism” that they forgot how much fun these stories can be. Like all of the Marvel movies, Dr. Strange made me chuckle several times and laugh out loud more than once. I have always been a Marvel zombie, but that added humor is why I prefer the Marvel movies to DC. They have gotten better. Aiden has been watching the Flash TV show. Between that and some of the trailers that I’ve seen, DC is slowly bringing more humor into their franchises. One big complaint about Batman vs. Superman was Batfleck, but perhaps his introduction into the universe will end up being a net positive. We shall see.

Before you think this is universal praise, there was one aspect of the movie that worried me and it wasn’t necessarily a fault of the movie. How’s that for some double speak? Comic book audiences have been trained for the big action and explosions. I know that Dr. Strange exists in that world, but he’s not so much about the punchy/kicky as he is about the hocus pocus. Would people think the movie is boring? Again, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I was very entertained by the action present. There was plenty of punchy/kicky in the form of martial arts and there was even some explosions during the finale.

Heck, the punchy/kicky even added hocus pocus to the mix.

Above all of this, though, my favorite part of the movie did not involve punchy/kicky. Instead, Dr. Strange used some major hocus/pocus to defeat Dormammu and save the world. For those of you even lamer than I am, I won’t give away any more than that, but it is definitely worth the wait and does the character justice. If you’re a fan of Dr. Strange, you won’t be disappointed.

This movie didn’t surpass the first Avengers as my favorite Marvel movie. I’m not even sure if it cracks the top 5. However, it is probably the most entertaining comic book movie I’ve watched in the past year. If you are in the mood for a good time with great effects and more or less faithful to the source material (if that’s your thing), then you definitely want to see this movie.

Exodia X Pikachu

(Editor’s Note: That title just made me wish that Namco/Bandai and Nintendo/Game Freak make that game.)

Last week, I faced a bit of a dilemma. I could use the remainder of the tax refund to either get caught up on our mortgage or buy a new laptop. Yes, I am in the market for yet another new laptop. This time, though, it actually isn’t entirely my fault. I think I already told this story, so I won’t go into much detail. Just know that one laptop stopped charging and I screwed up trying to fix it. Then, my backup fell off of the ottoman and busted the screen. Yes, that truly seems to be my curse in life.

Of course, I made the correct and adult decision of replacing my laptop. Seriously, though, for those of you worried about me and the future of my children, I paid the mortgage. It would have been a very different story if the bill to be paid had been my student loan. Those guys can suck it.

I’m not entirely sure why I tell that story other than as another example to illustrate my commitment to gaming. I mean, it’s not relevant to the topic of this article. But, hey, non sequitur is one of the things we do best around here. Something else we do around here is awkward transitions from the non sequitur. In keeping with both of those traditions, allow me to continue.

Because, without tradition, what are we? No, seriously, what are we. With tradition, we stuff chocolates in socks, so I think it’s worth a shot.

I got the idea for this article a couple of days ago. I knew that I wanted to write another Pokemon article to finish out that game until our next podcast about the game in a couple of weeks once Aiden and Quinn are able to play Sun and/or Moon. Well, Quinn has played it, on my file (and I recently found out that was never saved, so progress was lost!), but Aiden hasn’t played it at all, so we have to give him a chance.

But, that is in about a month, so I have time to come up with more articles then. For now, though, let’s get this one written. The other day, we found ourselves int he middle of a blizzard. I was already home on spring break (yeah, a bit of irony there from Mother Nature) and the rest of the family was also home due to the snow.

For once, I’m not talking about this Blizzard. Except, now I am. But, earlier, I wasn’t. Why can’t I quit you?!

We’ve been trying to ween Aiden off of his “addiction” (I’m not sure if that is the proper word, but he acts like a junkie glued to the screen at times) to technology. The latest attempt has been absolutely no technology until he can show that he can function without it. Yes, we are those parents.

But, I have to say, it seems to be having the intended effect. He’s been reading more. He’s played with Legos (that’s not new, but he’s showing off his creations on Instagram. See themhere), and during the snowstorm he asked to play YuGiOh. I thought this was interesting because I found one of his decks a few weeks ago and remarked on Facebook how I missed the time when he was so into the game. He never saw that post, but still we ended up playing. Sometimes if feels like there might just be a Creator watching over us after all. (S)He certainly answered that prayer.

I know what you’re thinking. YuGiOh? The answer to a prayer? Well, it wasn’t entirely about YuGiOh, okay. It was about father and son time and doing something that he once loved. Judging by our game, he still does. Not only did he ask to play, but he used the deck that I found. What’s so special about this deck? Well, this time it is mostly about the deck. But, it’s also about that coincidence that may have been more.

Okay, I certainly questioned the existence of God after he played this card against me.

When he was really into the game, I got him one of the 1000 assorted card lots. He was so grateful and overwhelmed by the cards. He still talks about it to this day. Both Quinn and Liam asked to make decks and he replied, “Sure, I have over a thousand cards!”

After getting the cards, he spent some time researching decks until he found the perfect deck. He built that deck–Yugi’s deck, he calls it–and put it into a holster like pouch. That’s the deck that I found and that’s the deck he used to pound me into submission the other day.

The most encouraging sign came at the beginning of the match before we even started playing. As I built my deck, he spent the time trying to set up his Kindle to record a video of our match. When that didn’t work, we were going to use Liam’s new camcorder to record. That didn’t work either because the SD card that he got with it malfunctioned. Okay, so where’s the encouragement?

First, and this is total proud parent stuff, he didn’t quit in spite of adversity. He kept trying and that is to be commended. Second, and this is related to the game, he said that he’d be willing to play again once I got a new SD card for the camcorder. With my newly found commitment to the web page, look for that video soon.

I wouldn’t use this much, but it would come in handy for times like this.

So, ostensibly, this article was to compare the two card games that I have played with the boys over the past month. It has taken almost a thousand words to get here, so let’s take at least a couple of paragraphs to explore this. First off, I think that I prefer Pokemon. That’s not a slight against Yugioh at all. I enjoy playing YuGiOh and I can’t wait to play against Aiden again and get our video recorded. The main problem that I have with it is that there are seemingly too many rules that aren’t as intuitive as Pokemon or Magic. I mean, I haven’t played Pokemon in months, either, but I was able to pick it up and play through with only a few questions about mostly status effects. Those always get me. We are never able to keep the tokens around, so it makes it even harder to keep track.

I feel like every time I play YuGiOh, I have major questions about every aspect of the game. The turn structure is similar to Magic, but I just can’t seem to wrap my head around them. I completely forgot about my trap and spell cards because they are played face down and I had a lot of them on the field at one point in the game. Maybe that’s a flaw in my deck design. See, that’s the kind of thing that I mean. I can’t tell if it is my own incompetence or the design of the game. Oh well, I won’t let that get in my way and I will continue to play through as many times as it takes to get to the point where I feel at least competent. I owe it to Aiden to try.

Pokemon Going, Going, Gone?

Like most people, I got caught up in the initial hype about Pokemon Go. I have a text chain between me and Chris that goes on for several days about how addictive the game is. Articles were written illustrating how Nintendo and Niantic were able to do what doctors, politicians, and parents all over America could not. They got people to go outside and voluntarily walk. Pokemon Go was heralded as the new must have “it” app for fitness and recreation. Nintendo’s stock rose significantly until they reminded people that they had little to nothing to do with the app or its success.

You might argue for the case of modesty or stupidity on Nintendo’s part. Initially, I thought the move was stupid. The more I thought about it, though, I realized that it might be a misguided attempt to avoid litigation or fines. Why they might face fines, I can’t explain, and it sounds silly now. But, sometimes the rules and regulations of the finance industry confuse and enrage me. I suspect that corporations and their lawyers feel the same way and that’s how we ended up with America, Inc’s first CEO.

I mean, seriously, these guys might be totally reasonable and actually believe that they are doing what’s best for people. But, they always look like every bully bad guy from every 1980s movie.

I now realize that they most likely just wanted to distance themselves from the app due to the inevitable backlash. Because, just as quickly and easily as they hooked people on the basic concept of Pokemon in real life, they saw their user base shrink to only a fraction of its peak. As is often the case with the internet, some of the hate was ridiculous. People worried that Nintendo (again, not involved in the project in any significant way) was collecting all of the map and camera data from users and storing it on a server. What they’d then do with that data was never explicitly defined as far as I know. But, so goes all such paranoid conspiracy theories. Others just hated it because it was popular and they think that all it takes to be cool and edgy is to hate things that are popular.

After the initial buzz wore off, I started to realize what others realized. Like so many games that are released these days, Pokemon Go started to feel more like an open beta than a finished game. Not one to use Twitter very much, I even sent out a tweet about it a few months ago. Once you get beyond the coolness factor of “gotta catch em all” and taking funny pictures of Pokemon on your friends butt, what is there? The “game” is little more than a glorified combination fit bit/snapchat filter app. There’s just not enough to keep me coming back right now.

Some of the pictures that you can get, though, are pretty funny.

But, you might argue, Nintendo has never been one to shy away from unfinished products or shovelware. While that may be true, more often than not, those games were 3rd party games and Nintendo was able to distance themselves from the trainwreck. Besides, there’s enough fan boys like me who will forgive almost anything if there’s a new Zelda, Mario, and/or Metroid.

Pokemon is different. As evidenced by the stock price episode, Pokemon is as recognizable as a Nintendo franchise as their big 3. It isn’t quite popular enough to warrant inclusion and expand to the “Big 4” since it has been more of a niche game than the other three. Pokemon Go started to change that some. People that I’d have never considered as Pokemon fans started playing this game. Pokemon was on the “it” list.

Plus, the partnership between Nintendo and Game Freak has been mutually beneficial. No reason to potentially damage that with some half baked app that may or may not prove to have staying power. Better to let it sing or swim and let Niantic deal with the fall out of this one. That’s my current half baked theory, at least. We’ll see if there’s any merit to it.

Any half baked idea I come up with won’t be even half as tasty as this one.

Even so, none of that explains why they would take that stance. In other words, what are the problems with Pokemon Go? Well, I’ve already explained that it feels unfinished. Again, that’s not unusual. In this day and age of digital gaming and endless patches, more often than not games are released missing content. Blizzard is one of the companies that is notorious for this. Look, I know that we like to have fun at the expense of Blizzard around here, but I promise that this isn’t piling on. Inevitably, every WoW expansion gets numerous patches. It’s gotten to the point where the patches have themes and even names. It’s not a but, it’s a feature.

While I don’t necessarily like this brave new world, it is our reality and, frankly, how we need to judge some games. What level of incomplete are you willing to tolerate in a game? It seems as if the answer to that question changes over time. I used to forgive Blizzard for their incomplete releases and routine patches. Heck, I even remember that I sold that feature when explaining the game to people. “They give you all of this additional content in the form of regular patches for no additional charge!”

Apparently, the named patches have been a thing since the beginning. I only started noticing the names later in my WoW career.

That was certainly not my attitude about Pokemon Go. I greeted their announcement of updates of the game with cynicism and skepticism. As it turns out, my reaction was warranted. While Niantic talked a good game about introducing some of the more desired features (most notably trainer battles), it has taken them two updates simply to introduce “buddy” Pokemon and generation 2.

Look, I never give up on a game that I think might have potential. I’m flawed that way. Also, as far as I know, there isn’t a template for releasing this type of game. Maybe the missing features take a massive amount of testing before being rolled out. Whatever the case, I don’t think that I will be a regular in the game until those features are implemented. I suspect that many others feel the same.

Here Comes the Sun…Again?

(Editor’s Note: Remember when I said that the tutorial for Pokemon Sun and Moon was long? Well, it turns out that it was even longer than that! In fact, almost a month later, I’m still learning how ride that darn bike!)

Okay, so the last part of that note is included for humorous effect. These games don’t even have a bike as far as I know, but you can ride a Tauros and that’s way cooler! But, the tutorial of the game goes on forever. Thankfully, it integrates seamlessly into gameplay, so it isn’t nearly as tedious as many games make their tutorials. Granted, I’m an old man gamer who doesn’t even think that there should be a tutorial mode or, at the very least, it should be voluntary. You dang whipper snappers should read the instructions. Either that, or man mode the game. If you die because you didn’t know about a certain mechanic, you die. Learn from your mistakes or suffer the consequences.

If you think that’s harsh,all I can say is that we believe in sink or swim. And all of our kids (that survived) can swim.

But, we live in a time when tutorials are a mandatory part of the game. So, in true old guy gamer fashion, I’m going to complain about the younger generation not being able to adapt to changing circumstances while I exhibit the same tendency myself. When I was your age, we didn’t need tutorials to introduce us to the mechanics of games. Sure, you might argue that when I was your age, we only had a single joystick and button configuration, so it wasn’t like games offered that much in the way of mechanics. Hell, Grandpa, you could say, Pac-Man didn’t even use the button or any diagonal motion in its moves set.

Okay, now that I’m done arguing with myself, I can continue my review of Poemon Sun. Admittedly, I haven’t had as much time to play it recently because Quinn discovered it. Similar to his older brother, he stole it from me and played through a significant portion. However, that happened after I was able to play through the first two trials. He got me pretty far into the island with the volcano trial. In fact, he got me so far that I was disoriented when I picked up the game and started playing again.

Let’s be honest, though. It’s not like Pokemon gameplay is that involved, either. Once the initial shock of waking up miles from where you fell asleep wears off, you go back to walking in such a way that yo avoid any contact with other people because your social anxiety extends even into fiction worlds. Oh, is that just me?

No, Preschooler Ella, I don’t want to hear about how cute your Buneary is before burying that Pokemon in a shallow grave right before your eyes.

When Quinn wasn’t playing and doing whatever it is that five year old boys do…okay, and let’s unpack that statement a little bit before I continue. We converted what might have been attic space into a playroom for the kids. We carpeted it, painted it twice (once because Aiden wanted to use it as a bedroom), and bought an absurd amount of packing crates and shelving units to ensure that things remained in their place. All noble endeavors, right?

Well, the carpet is covered with all manner of dried paint and Playdoh, the paint job is chipped right down to the primer in several places, and the crates and shelves remain empty even as Lego pieces, Pokemon cards, Minecraft mini figures, and my various loot items from all sorts of loot crate type subscription boxes litter the floor and make travel through the room dangerous at best and quite often nearly fatal. So, what exactly is it that 5 year olds do? I’m not entirely sure. But, it would seem that everything that they do results in chaos and misery for everyone else involved.

Sure they look cute and all, but isn’t that exactly how the devil himself would attempt to initiate contact.

Luckily, Quinn’s adventures in my Sun game weren’t quite so destructive. Unlike real life, he understands and appreciates just how important Pokemon can be to a person, so I don’t think he wanted to upset the apple cart too much. In fact, he actually helped quite a bit and got me several new Pokemon, advanced the story almost to the point where I can attempt the next trial, and generally treated my digital life with the utmost respect.

When I finally got the game back from him and was able to play more than he was, I got back into the groove of the game. At the risk of sounding like a broken record or a shill, or a shill that was recorded on a broken record, I really enjoy the game. I mean, this shouldn’t come as a shock because I’ve been a fan of the Pokemon series since the beginning, but I haven’t played a Pokemon game seriously since Diamond. I’ve wanted to pick up a few that Liam got, but I didn’t want to delete his only save file.

I mean, seriously, Nintendo and Game Freak. How hard is it to add just one more save slot to these games? What am I supposed to do while I’m waiting for this technology to be available? *see above*

So, I honestly couldn’t say going in that I was going to enjoy the game. I can now definitively say that Pokemon is still a fun game series even if you’re 40 years old. I got a taste of that when Pokemon Go released, but like many mobile games these days, they knew that they could release an unfinished product and get millions of free beta testers as they worked on things behind the scenes. I’m not sure who to blame ultimately for this development, but I know that Blizzard has done this sort of thing for years and took it to a new level with Hearthstone. I honestly don’t think they do any in house testing on that game.

Unnecessary and completely unrelated Hearthstone insult. Excellent! *air guitar solo*

However, while Pokemon Go was undeniably unfinished at release, Nintendo and Game Freak have had a 2 decade track record with the Pokemon franchise on their mobile consoles. It shows. While the basic gameplay hasn’t changed, they have done some quality of life improvements that aren’t big, but they add to the game and keep you coming back for more. Also, the story and setting are different enough and engaging enough that you want to keep playing to advance that aspect of the game. Overall, I’ve been enjoying the game. It has accomplished several goals of getting me back into the Pokemon world and even considering buying some of the Sun and Moon cards to see what the game adds to that aspect of the world.